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Handbook for Dragon Slayers
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Handbook for Dragon Slayers

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,396 ratings  ·  246 reviews
Thirteen-year-old Princess Matilda, whose lame foot brings fear of the evil eye, has never given much thought to dragons, attending instead to her endless duties and wishing herself free of a princess's responsibilities.

When a greedy cousin steals Tilda's lands, the young princess goes on the run with two would-be dragon slayers. Before long she is facing down the Wild Hun
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  1,396 ratings  ·  246 reviews

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Previously: Saw the cover for this tonight at Written in the Mitten. Gorgeous (though now all I'll be able to think about when I see it was the discussions it caused on horse and dragon proportions and genetics (ish)...)
And then: Just for my own records, my copy has 320 pages, not 240. 320 glorious pages.
This is 2 lovely, perfect books in a row now; I am decidedly in Merrie Haskell's corner.

A couple of days ago, I gushed about The Princess Curse, which is sort of loosely connected to H
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a middle grade title about Tilda, a young princess who’s much more interested in writing her own book than she is in being a princess. Particularly given how little her people seem to like her. Born with a deformed leg that requires her to use a cane to get around, she often finds herself the target of whispers and gossip and general nastiness. So when the bad guy sets out to steal her lands and title, Tilda considers it no real loss.

I haven’t done a lot of middle grade reading–something
Brandy Painter
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I was super excited to win a copy of Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell in a Goodreads giveaway. I had reservations about Haskell's The Princess Curse (my thoughts), but I liked her writing so much I was eager to try another of her books. Handbook for Dragon Slayers is a great tale of adventure, friendship, and discovering who you are.

Tilda is not the typical heroine of a princess story, even a rebellious princess story. She is
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This review and others can be found on my blog, Fine Print.

Merri Haskell’s standalone middle grade fantasy HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS is a sweet story about going on adventures that test your limits, appreciating the people who love you, and accepting yourself as you are. Oh, and dragon slaying. In a word: charming.

Princess Matilda, known as Tilda to her family and closest friends Judith and Parzival, is not all that a princess should be. She is shy and bookish, and worst of all? She’s clubfoot
Rachel Neumeier
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
In contrast to the earlier The Princess Curse, which was a 12 Dancing Princesses retelling with a dash of Beauty and the Beast, Handbook for Dragon Slayers is not a retelling.

Handbook does pull in plenty of fairy tale elements, though – the princess, the nasty villain who wants to take over her lands, magic horses, dragons, the Wild Hunt (I’m a big fan of the Wild Hunt). What an adult reader will notice that a kid would probably miss is the depth of research that went into the book: a pfennig fo
Okay, a few things about this book: if contemporary idiom in a medieval setting bothers you, you'll have problems. If you want either by-the-book avoidance of anachronisms despite the fantasy OR your more recently-typical "feisty" heroine, you'll have problems. If, on the other hand, you're fine with modern speech (as long as it's consistent) and you like the idea of a heroine who wants nothing more than to be in a cloister so she's able to work on her manuscripts uninterrupted by other duties, ...more
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, 2017
Brief thoughts originally published 27 June 2017 at Falling Letters.

First book I read by Merrie Haskell, though I have already read another!

This book received a positive own voices review at Disability in Kid Lit, which led me to select it for the March topic of 2017 Diverse Reads. Aimee Louw writes far more eloquently about Tilda’s club foot than I could, so be sure to check out her post. I especially agree with her observation that the “dichotomy between the desire to improve or better oneself
Katie Lawrence
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This was a fantastic fantasy novel that dealt with issues I have not previously encountered in the genre. Tilda is a princess who has been challenged since birth with a lame foot - something people in her town regard as a curse. Because of her injury, Tilda has been kept from many activities and many villagers mistreat or ignore her outright. While Tilda does face many challenges due to her foot, I loved that Handbook for Dragon Slayers is not too focused on her challenges. Instead, we get to se ...more
Emma S
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I always thought dragons were good, and this book shows the truth about them! I recommend this book to all fantasy lovers!!! Full of suspense and action, this is a Must Read for all ages.
Harold Ogle
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a pleasant surprise: a children's novel with a number of atypical choices, enough so that it felt nothing like a typical "turn the crank, produce another book according to formula" juvenile fiction story. I've railed about this in many other reviews, but the thinking in children's fiction for the last eighty years or so has been that the writer has to get the parents out of the way in order for the children to have adventures, as the parents would obviously protect the childre ...more
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Merrie Haskell’s The Princess Curse is one of my favourite MGs so when I managed to pick up her sophomore novel at ALA, I was beyond thrilled. Of course it languished in my reading pile for quite a long while until one of my cohort who had attended ALA with me told me how much she had loved it. And that was it. I knew I had to read the novel and I pounced on it as soon as I got home.

And I did love it. Oh I loved it in so many ways for so many reasons. First there was the world class world buildi
Miss Clark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, the elements in this book could have been specifically ordered just for me: smart girls, adventure, ambition, magic, and dragons! (Fabulous dragons!) So it's no surprise that I really liked the first half of the book, and I absolutely fell in love with the second half, when the magical elements really kicked into gear.

Tilda, the heroine, is wonderful - smart, responsible, willful and determined, with a disability that informs her character but never, ever defines it. Better yet, she s
Disability in Kidlit
“What is striking to me is that Handbook is not a book written with a direct mission or statement about disability. Disability is simply part of the story; it is not the entire plot, nor is it the only source of hardship. In other words, disability is not simplified or reduced to a useful but inaccurate writing device. And it’s not sugarcoated. For example, it is mentioned that Tilda’s foot always aches. That acknowledgment of chronic pain is refreshing and is certainly true in my case. Sometime ...more
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I was starting Handbook for Dragon Slayers, I wasn't sure whether I was going to like it or not. It's a middle grade novel, and I don't usually read middle grade. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The book turned out to be enjoyable.

The plot was fun. It kept me wondering how Tilda was going to get out of her current predicament and what she was going to get into next. It was also interesting to try to figure out how she was going to get Alder Brook back from her cousin Ivo.

I really adm
Amy Rae
I've been putting off reviewing this one because I haven't been entirely sure what I want to say, but I did finish it some days ago now. Which day is a guess at this point, lol.

Anyway, I enjoyed it, on the whole. I feel like it goes off the rails a little by the end, but I adore the medieval German setting, the fact that my bb St. Hildegarde von Bingen shows up, and the way Haskell tries to avoid falling into the "well, you were born a princess so obviously you're the one rightful ruler" trap th
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, fantasy
This book is packaged like a straight fantasy children's novel, but don't be fooled - it's a fabulous tale of a princess, born with a club foot, who is not ready to assume her responsibilities. She goes on a quest with some friends to find more information on dragons, and learns a great deal about them - and herself. Intrigue, cursed hunters and their enchanted horses, a smarmy prince who likes black magic, and a great coming of age tale. The moral of finding balance between your responsibility ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed following Tilda on her journey. I liked the emphasis on the multi-faceted relationships she has with both Judith and Parz. Some good messages hidden in a fun fantasy romp with dragons and magic.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
pretty good. i hope she cotinues Reveka's story!
Matthew Galloway
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a sweet read about duty, friendship, love, and... dragons, of course! It's charming and funny, with depth and danger and a mash-up of folk tales.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
(Edit: I just read some other reviews and this is a MG - Middle Grade? - book instead of YA, which explains the ages. I wasn't aware of this category before.)

This is a cute, light YA read. Matilda is a Princess after my own heart - all she wants to do is have the peace and quiet of a Scriptorium to write a book of her own, like the ones she loves to read. Born to a minor kingdom, her family is not wealthy and struggles to keep their lands a freehold.

Tilda was born with a lame foot that makes it
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
Charming enough middle grade novel. To me it felt a little hodge-podge with so many myths and saints all squished into the background of not that long a book. She did wonderful research and perhaps tried to show a bit too much of it off.

But I like the realistic elements that in some ways make this feel much more grounded than stories without dragons but also without lords of manors having to worry about accounts, or bickering between vassals, or owing servants new clothing at Christmas... And t
Aug 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I went in not expecting much. Even a few chapters in, I was not very impressed. The main character, Tilda, is initially annoying and childish. Normal, for a thirteen years old. I didn't like her at all.

As the story progressed and she grew, as characters should in a well written book, I liked her more and more. The twists and turns were abrupt, but were well woven in without anything jumping out too quickly. This was definitely a story that could have done
Roger Clarke
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book did a good job keeping me interested in the story and I enjoyed seeing the heroine, Tilda, grow and become more confident in herself. Since I am really into fantasy books, this was a fun read for me as Tilda overcomes everyone's expectations (including her own), despite he having a bad-foot. The story is very cleverly written and has a few good twists that are expected and unexpected at the same time. There is a good cast of supporting characters in the story, but we don't get nearly e ...more
Doug Farren
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I know the author.

This book is targeted towards a much younger audience, but I know the author and I'm trying to read at least one book from every author I've met at Launch Pad. I am a huge fan of dragons and I was a bit nervous about reading a book about dragon slayers. I don't want to give the story away, but Merrie did a wonderful job of portraying the dragons in her book.

All-in-all, I enjoyed the story. It held my interest and kept me turning the pages. This was originally g
Moriah Snell
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reading
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Tharp
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who want a fun summer read
Handbook for Dragon Slayers follows Princess Tilda as she struggles to come to terms with her crippled foot and her role as princess of Alder Brook. Author Merrie Haskell paints Tilda with a sympathetic hand so that the reader understands Tilda's frustrations without getting to annoyed at the princess' faults. I enjoyed watching Tilda grow into a more mature character as the story progressed, I was pleasantly surprised by the story's themes of responsibility and duty, and I appreciated the story ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
This YA fantasy adventure novel follows a lesser medieval European princess as she leaves her home and travels with her friends in search of dragons. Born with a twisted foot, she found purpose in scholarship, but is still struggling for happiness. The story is less than compelling, but interesting enough. The characters don't really feel like real people, just loosely sketched outlines. I also have a pet-peeve for main characters whose secret desire is to be an author - just seems like a lack o ...more
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The Handbook and Princess Curse 3 17 Jan 04, 2014 10:19PM  

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